There is no denying the importance of attending a culinary arts program if you dream of making it as a chef. In this setting you’ll learn everything you’ll need to one day be the master of your kitchen, from the best ways to chop and dice ingredients to how to work alongside other staff members. Yet there are certain things all would-be chefs must be aware of before entering culinary academy. These lessons are vital in creating realistic expectations and ensuring success in becoming a bona fide kitchen guru.
1. Working in a kitchen can be demanding
Whether cooking seafood or preparing gourmet steak, all kitchens are inherently chaotic. With so many moving parts and a number of tasks to complete in a very small window, it’s not uncommon for people to scream and yell in kitchens. And that kind of pace can put a strain on people, leaving them feeling both emotionally and physically drained. Yet, if you truly love cooking, you’ll find ways to cope, either by improving your communication skills or by maintaining the proper work-life balance. By overcoming any stresses, you’ll become that much better of a chef.
2. You must always be organized
There are a few key traits that define most people’s perceptions of a chef. Whereas good taste and a passion for food seem obvious, successful chefs most also be prepared. If your space in the kitchen is chaotic or out of whack, it’ll greatly hamper your ability to cook quickly and efficiently. The organizational system of each chef varies, but you need to take steps to have the tools you’ll need within arm’s length. On the plus side, this sense of order has filtered into the personal lives of many chefs, and they’ve found themselves better prepared in finances or managing a business.
3. Cooking will be the center of your life
For many would-be chefs, the only reason to enter the service industry is to chase dreams of cooking world-class meals and helping to entertain throngs of hungry guests. Yet not enough people prepare themselves while in culinary academy for just how cooking will dominate their personal lives. So many chefs have found that working long shifts – as many as 72 hours in a week according to Career Bear – has left little time for a social life or even sleep. Still, it’s possible to have a life and career if you know how to effectively manage your time. If you’re truly passionate about cooking, you can make the decisions necessary to build a career and maintain hobbies and a family.
4. Confidence and creativity are absolutely vital
What do you think makes a successful culinary student? Is it the quality of the ingredients they use? How sharp their butcher knives prove to be? While those are important, Ariel Knutson told The Kitchn that confidence and creativity are two of the most important skills for graduating. As mentioned above, culinary school can be an intense experience, and you’ll need to be confident in your skills and your decisions if you want to achieve your goals. Young chefs must also learn the importance of creativity; it’s not enough to simply cook dishes well, but you must have the energy and drive to innovate on your own. It’s these skills combined that will help you reach your true potential as a chef.